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Holington, AndreasNico Nassenstein (2018). »African Youth Language Practices and Social Media«. In: Ziegler, Arne (Hg.). Jugendsprachen/Youth Languages: Aktuelle Perspektiven internationaler Forschung/Current Perspectives of International Research. Berlin, Boston. S. 807–828.

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Abstract: Youth language practices in Africa constitute a very versatile phenomenon, which usually involves deliberate and creative strategies of language manipulation, as well as drawing on large multilingual (and even global) repertoires. In the last two decades, African youth languages have attracted the attention of linguists and scholars and a range of publications have been produced that describe various African youth language practices, usually in urban centers, and discuss a range of theoretical issues (for an overview, see Kießling/Mous 2004; Nassenstein/Hollington 2015). Studying language and communication in digital media has become a major field of study in recent years (e.g. Androutsopoulos 2011, 2014; Seargeant/Tagg 2014; Thurlow/Mroczek 2011). Undeniably, youths constitute a driving force in digital communication practices. Many African youth practices are very present in digital spaces. Speakers create, negotiate and discuss meanings in forums, Facebook and WhatsApp groups, on Twitter etc. These digital media open up large spaces in which global communication is facilitated and identities and meanings can be negotiated on a larger scale (for instance involving members of the various diasporas). We therefore come up with the hypothesis that digital spaces - despite their modified patterns of interpersonal communication - are not less creative in terms of ‘style’ (cf. Eckert 2012), nor are they less cohesive in terms of communities of practice, neither do they lack complex multi-modally encoded sets of practices, which take the form of video messages, pictures and image macros, emoticons and emojis, and the exchange of voice notes, establishing virtual group identities and networks. Moreover, we want to argue that these digital spaces do not merely reproduce the actual spoken linguistic practices of youth language speakers, but also constitute additional discursive practices that add another dimension to the complex phenomenon of youth language (cf. Androutsopoulos 2006). They can be considered as “third space” (Bhabha 1994), “Thirdspace“ (García/Wei 2014) or “third place” (Deumert 2014), in which the speakers and writers create new practices based on (writing) ideologies, discourses of representation and digital identities, and reflect on the roles that these media play in global communication. Our paper will illustrate these aspects by drawing on examples from various African youth language practices, including Sheng (Kenya), Langila (DR Congo), Yanké (DR Congo), Yarada Kw’ankw’a (Ethiopia) and Shona-based youth language from Zimbabwe among others.

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